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Miami Criminal Defense Blog

Bernie Madoff must serve out his time

Recently, one of the country's most notorious white collar criminals, Bernie Madoff, 82, petitioned the court to give him a compassionate release from his 150-year sentence because he is terminally ill from end-stage kidney disease.

However, the judge in Madoff's federal case denied the prisoner's request, calling his crimes "one of the most egregious financial crimes of all time," and that "many people are still suffering from" the damage that Madoff wreaked.

Veteran faces federal charges after carrying guns to clinic

Why would someone face federal crimes? There are several reasons that investigators or prosecutors from Washington or field offices around the country could take an interest in a case. One is criminal activity that may be happening across state lines or on federal property.

Facilities run by federal agencies often have their own security services, and suspected crimes that take place there may be prosecuted by federal attorneys. A veteran of the U.S. Navy is facing federal charges after he was caught by Veterans Affairs police officers approaching a Pensacola clinic with firearms.

Dismissals expected in more of tainted Houston cop’s drug cases

The dismissal of more than 90 additional drug convictions are expected in 11 years’ worth of cases involving a disgraced former Houston police officer. Prosecutors made the announcement in May regarding investigations led by ex-narcotics officer Gerald Goines. He has been charged with murder related to a botched drug raid in January 2019 and faces several charges related to lying about cases.

The recent announcement brings the number of dismissed cases to at least 164 in which Goines had an involvement. The Goines situation represents another instance in which misconduct within law enforcement entraps people and leads to unlawful convictions that ruin a person’s life.

Should you be a confidential informant in a drug case?

You have a drug problem. To support your habit, maybe you deal a little to your friends -- or maybe you carried a few packages between your dealer and someone else. Whatever happened, you got caught.

Naturally, you're terrified -- but the police officer has just made you an offer: If you'll do a few drug buys for them and take on the mantle of a "confidential informant," you could improve your position.

How do you know if you're under federal investigation?

You never dreamed that a federal agent would be calling your office. Your not sure what the whole thing is about. Are you being investigated?

Maybe. The federal government seldom reveals all of its cards early in the investigation game, so you could be of interest to agents merely because of what they think you may know about someone else's illegal dealings. Before you pick up the phone to return an agent's call, however, look for these signs that you may be a target:

  1. A knock on the door. Don't let an agent's relaxed, easy demeanor fool you. If a federal agent is standing on your doorstep, the odds are high that you're being investigated.
  2. A search warrant. Agents will sometimes spring a search warrant on a suspect early -- in hopes that they can prevent any evidence of a suspected crime from being destroyed. They may also hope to rattle your nerves by taking an aggressive tactic up-front.
  3. You're given a subpoena. This can force you to testify in front of a grand jury and should immediately be taken as a sign that the government is casting its net your way.
  4. A target letter. A target letter is a formal request for your cooperation from the federal government and is a clear sign that you're in trouble.

Houston man admits guilt in $5 million Medicare fraud scheme

Cases involving Medicare fraud continue to occur, and many often involve years of alleged misbehavior. Take for instance the recent case of a Houston man. In early May, Ravinder Syal, 57, pleaded guilty to federal charges in a nearly $5 million health care fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas.

During a two-year period that lasted through March of this year, Syal falsely billed for medical services never provided to patients, defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and several insurance companies. Syal was able to acquire physician practices throughout the state, allowing him to take control of their billing departments. He altered billing information and included fraudulent services unbeknownst to the physicians at each of the practices.

Can you break the law unwittingly?

Does it really matter if you meant to commit a crime or not?

Maybe. There are certain crimes, like homicide, that are punished more seriously depending on whether the perpetrator acted with malice aforethought. The mens rea, or mental state of the person who committed the crime at the time that they acted, can be pretty important.

Illegal drug prices are soaring

The cost of the average fix has been going up considerably, lately.

The cost of illegal drugs, just like everything else on a consumer-driver market, rises according to the law of supply and demand. Right now, social, medical and economic situations are creating a lot of anxiety -- which may be increasing the demand for illegal drugs of all kinds.

What's the top federal crime in America today?

Immigration violations have become the number one most common source of federal prosecutions in this country, surging well ahead of the second-most prominent contender: Drug crimes.

According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission's annual report, immigration crimes surged 22.9% in 2018. All told, there were 29,354 people prosecuted for immigration crimes in 2019, a marked increase over the 23,883 that were sentenced in 2018. Altogether, immigration offenses count for 38.4% of all federal prosecutions. Drug crimes trailed a distant second, accounting for only 26.6% of offenses. (Firearms offenses were an even-more distant third, accounting for 11.1% of prosecutions.)

"Zoombombing" is no joking matter

Human beings have always been practical jokers -- but some jokes can actually have serious legal consequences because of their potential for serious physical or economic harm to others.

"Zoombombing" is the latest practical joke that's drawing attention from the authorities. If you're not familiar with it, Zoom is an electronic platform that is designed for conference calls. It's become especially important as more Americans than ever are working and attending school from home.

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